NFL Picks: 5 Favorites Who Will Keep You Alive in Your Suicide Pool
For those of you who are still alive in your suicide/eliminator pools, congratulations.
The first three weeks of the NFL season have been anything but easy to pick, with teams like the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions playing better than expected.
Week 4 doesn't appear to get any easier. Many of the matchups this week are pretty even. With the majority of them being tossups, this is not the week you want to get risky with your picks.
Instead, this is the week that you need to choose a heavy favorite, assuming you haven't already used all the "usuals." I have four heavy favorites lined up for you to use, and they will be discussed on the following slides.
However, if you really don't want to use any of these teams at this point in time, I have also thrown in a risky pick for all you gamblers out there.
Let's start with the heavy favorites, which will be ranked from most likely to win to less than most likely to win. I could have said "least likely," but that would infer that these teams aren't likely to win their games. All of these teams would be great selections to use this week.
1: New Olreans Saints
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Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
The 2-1 New Orleans Saints travel to Jacksonville this weekend to take on the 1-2 Jaguars in what is likely to be a heinous beat-down.
The Saints, like always, have a tremendous offense. They are currently second in the NFL in both yards per game (437.7) and points per game (34.7). This can be attributed to Saints QB Drew Brees, who is averaging 338 passing yards per game.
All of this has come without star WR Marques Colston, who suffered a broken collarbone in the Saints' first game of the season, and a middle-of-the-road rushing attack.
After losing their season opener to the Packers, the Saints have notched two nice victories against the Chicago Bears and the Houston Texans. Week 4's game against the Jaguars will be the first "easy" game on the Saints' schedule.
The Jaguars, whose only win came in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans, actually have one of the best defenses in the NFL, statistically speaking. They rank seventh in opponent passing yards, giving up 196.3 per game, and fifth in opponent rushing yards, giving up 83.7 per game.
The Jaguars have yet to face an offense like New Orleans, though. The current spread on this game has the Saints as 7.5-point favorites. Not only will the Saints cover this, they're going to blow it out of the water.
Use the Saints this weekend if you haven't used them so far.
2: Green Bay Packers
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Opponent: Denver Broncos
The Super Bowl defending champion Green Bay Packers have had a great start to their season. Going into Week 4, the Packers are one of only three teams left that are undefeated.
This week, the Packers stay at home and welcome the 1-2 Denver Broncos. The Broncos have had a slew of problems thus far this season, including injuries to starting WR Brandon Lloyd and starting RB Knowshon Moreno.
Still, the Broncos have been competitive in every game they've played this season. Even though they're just 1-2, they've only lost their two games by a combined six points. If the Broncos catch one big play in either of those games, they could be the fourth undefeated team in the NFL and this game against the Packers could be a lot bigger than it is.
Unfortunately, with all the problems surrounding the Broncos, they don't stand a chance against the Packers on the road this week.
This game happens to hold the highest spread of the week, as the Packers are 13.5-point favorites against the Broncos. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' passing attack are going to carve up the Broncos' secondary.
The Packers are going to score quick, and they're going to score often. The Broncos will have to play above themselves offensively if they want to keep up this week.
However, the odds are with the Packers in this game, and I couldn't agree more.
3: Atlanta Falcons
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Opponent: Seattle Seahawks
The Atlanta Falcons may be the best 1-2 team in the NFL, and this week's matchup would appear to be just what it needs to get back to .500.
The Falcons, who were subject to a blowout in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears, made up for their season-opening loss with a big Week 2 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they fell again in Week 3 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite an attempted fourth quarter comeback.
Needless to say, the Falcons' season hasn't exactly started they way it was supposed to. QB Matt Ryan hasn't exactly played up to his potential, as he has almost thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns through three games (five touchdowns, four interceptions).
Also, the Falcons' defense has been more than disappointing, as they rank in the bottom half of the league in both passing and rushing yards allowed per game.
What the Falcons need is a game where everything comes together, where they can perform a massive beat-down on an opponent. They need confidence.
They'll get that this week when they face the Seahawks, who happen to be coming off their first win of the season against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Seahawks got a major boost from WR Sidney Rice, who played in his first game of the season last week. Rice finished the game with eight receptions for 109 yards. After his performance, Rice is already only one yard away from being the team leader in receiving yards and is tied for most receptions.
However, Rice won't be enough to get the struggling Seahawks by the Falcons, the superior team. If you've already used the Saints and the Packers, it would be a good week to use the Falcons.
4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Opponent: Indianapolis Colts
Who would have thought the Colts would be 0-3 going into Week 4 with no signs of improving?
As if matters weren't already bad enough for the Colts with star QB Peyton Manning sidelined for likely the rest of the year, backup QB Kerry Collins is questionable for this weekend's matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after showing symptoms of a concussion.
If Collins is unable to play, the Colts will have to go with third-string QB Curtis Painter. Even if Collins is able to play, this week still isn't looking too bright for the Colts.
The Buccaneers are coming into the game 2-1, and they really need this win and a win next week against the San Francisco 49ers, because starting Week 6, the Buccaneers are going to have to play out of their minds.
Here are Tampa Bay's Week 6 through Week 11 opponents: New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Bye week, New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers.
If they can get through the next two weeks unscathed, they will go to 4-1 and will have some room to work with as they get into the rough portion of their schedule. Also, they could really use the next two games in order to get everything right with their offense.
As of now, the Buccaneers have absolutely no running game. LeGarrete Blount, the Bucs' leading rusher, finally got an opportunity to get some touches last week against Atlanta. Blount rushed 24 times for 81 yards but failed to get in the end zone.
Still, the 24 rushes were a season high for Blount, who had posted five rushes in Week 1 and 13 in Week 2. If Blount can get Tampa Bay's rushing attack going, QB Josh Freeman will have a lot more success, making the Buccaneers a tough team to cover.
They should be able to get on track this week against the Colts.
5: Detroit Lions
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Opponent: Dallas Cowboys
Ladies and gentlemen, here is your risky pick of the week, and it may not even be that risky.
While the Cowboys are currently a 3.5-point favorite at home this weekend, the undefeated Lions will give them all that they can handle. For anybody who watched the Cowboys escape with a victory against the Washington Redskins on Monday, the absence of star WR Miles Austin was more than noticeable.
Cowboys' QB Tony Romo was visibly disgusted with the way his young teammates were playing. Time and time again, Romo and his receivers were on the wrong page, he was getting snaps while calling audibles and he was receiving all-out blitzes that weren't getting picked up.
Despite all of his team's shortcomings, Romo was still able to march his troops down the field in the fourth quarter and give kicker Dan Bailey an opportunity to take the lead and eventually win the game, which is exactly what happened.
Romo stepped up and showed the leadership qualities it takes to be a winning quarterback in the NFL, and with Austin likely to return to the lineup this week, the Cowboys may have the confidence to take down the Lions.
The key word in that sentence is may. The Redskins definitely have a better than average defense, but the Lions are going to do a better job shutting down Romo and the Cowboys' passing game. The Lions currently have the fourth best pass defense in the league, allowing just 188 passing yards per game.
The Cowboys will have to get something out of running backs Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray if they want to have a shot at winning this game. If they get too one-dimensional, the Lions will be able to adapt to the pass and shut it down.
This should be a pretty fun game to watch, but the Lions are going to come out victorious, especially if the Cowboys run into the same problems as they did on Monday night.
If you're feeling risky and haven't used them yet, go with the Lions in Week 4.